Wednesday, May 26, 2021

It was the best of times, It was the worst of times.

So where the hell was I?

Oh yeah…

5/19 – Woke up with abdominal pain

Adak Clinic

Appendicitis? No.

Kidney Stone? Yes.


Hospital, Anchorage.

Passed ( the stone, not me…)

Discharged (3:30 AM!)

Thursday and Friday in Anchorage

5/22 – Fly back to Adak

Whoops! Can’t land. Too windy! Back to Anchorage

Sun, Mon, Tues in Anchorage

Returned to Adak today.

You can read more details at the end of this post.

So where was I when so rudely interrupted?

Temp in the 40s, mostly overcast, wind SE 10-15 mph

While I was gone, the guys still out here started finding all kinds of goodies.

Whooper Swan, Wood Sandpiper, Terek Sandpiper, Eastern Spot-billed Duck, Hawfinch.

I could only pray to the bird gods that they would stay long enough for me to see them.


We (Gabi and I — see below) headed up to Haven Lake for the swan. YES!

A lifer!

Whooper Swan, Haven Lake, May 26, 2021

Then up to Clam Lagoon for the duck. YES! (but flew off before photo-op).

Dipped out on the Terek Sandpiper.

Drove around the lagoon, picking up lifers for Gabi. The Bar-tailed Godwit flock had grown to four.

When we had arrived at the Adak Airport, Sam and Steve informed us that they had a Temminck’s Stint in Sweeper Channel! That was our next stop. YES!

Temminck’s Stint, Sweeper Channel, May 26, 2021

We did not see the Hawfinch, but it was late in the day and we didn’t linger.

A great return to Adak.

As I was writing this blog, we got a call on the radio of a possible Eurasian Hobby over by the bar! So off we went.

Met the other birders and chased the bird (a cuckoo, not a falcon) around for a half-hour. Finally got it sitting. A Common Cuckoo! My previous cuckoo sightings on Adak were both immatures in the Fall, basically unidentifiable to species. So this was a nice find.

Common Cuckoo, behind Sandy Cove Bluffs, May 26, 2021
Common Cuckoo, behind Sandy Cove Bluffs, May 26, 2021
Common Cuckoo, behind Sandy Cove Bluffs, May 26, 2021

I will update the trip list tomorrow.

Now, about that interruption…

I woke up on 5/19 with gas pains and other pains in my abdomen (front and back). After four hours of no relief, I went to the clinic for help. At first they thought it might be appendicitis, and started the procedures for arranging a MedEvac. As the morning and afternoon wore on, the pains in the front dissipated, but the pain in my lower rear back persisted. I had had a kidney stone many years ago, and it sure felt like that. Kidney stones can be painful and generally non-critical, but they can also do some serious damage. (Side note: one of the taxi drivers that I used while I was in Anchorage had lost a kidney to kidney stones when he was 25!). So better safe than sorry.

The plane finally arrived around 7 pm and off to Anchorage I went (in pain).

When I landed in Anchorage, I was still hurting and they gave me some serious pain medication which alleviated it.

By the time I got to the CT-Scan (a couple hours later), it turns out the stone had already moved down to the bladder. Crises resolved! They kicked me out of the hospital at 3:30 AM!

I finally found a hotel that wasn’t booked up and got a few hours sleep. All day Thursday I had a low fever, so I stayed in my room and rested. The fever broke Thursday night and I felt like a new man. Still, I didn’t do much on Friday, just waiting to get on Saturday’s flight back to Adak. (The Medevac is only one-way.)

During all of this, there were other birders heading out to Adak expecting me to meet them at the Adak Airport (Including a group of 4 “girls” from Denali who arrived on the day I was Medevaced out). The others were surprised to see me at the Anchorage Airport instead. I gave them my story and looked forward to returning to Adak.

One of those was Gabi. She had tried to join two of the groups that were coming out on the 22nd, but they were full, so I offered to let her stay with me.

We took off, got to Cold Bay, took off again, got to Adak, but turned around at the last minute because the cross winds were too great! Talk about adding insult to injury…


Back to Anchorage. There was no room at the inn, so David Sonneborn offered to put me up for the night. And Gabi offered me the use of her car!!!!!

I found a motel for the remaining nights and David also lent me a pair of binoculars.

So I did some Alaska mainland birding for a few days and added several birds to my Alaska list.

The first was Rufous Hummingbird down in Girdwood. Then Surfbirds on the Coastal Trail near West Chester Lagoon. Those, plus the Willow Ptarmigan from earlier in the trip.

Near Girdwood, I had a nice look at a Spruce Grouse (cell-phone photo).

Spruce Grouse, Girdwood, May 24, 2021

At Lake Hood, I saw Barrow’s Goldeneyes up-close-and-personal (and no good camera!)

Barrow’s Goldeneye, Anchorage, May 24, 2021

The one thing I hate about Alaska is there is no scenery…

So I went to the airport today, got on the plane and it actually landed on Adak.

Back in business, albeit for only three days.

More tomorrow.